By Utpal Borpujari
The breathtakingly-beautiful Mizoram is far removed from so-called mainland India – not only physically but also politically.
Caste, the main fulcrum of politics almost all over India, is a non-issue here. Reservation does not mean a thing in this tribal state where 39 of the 40 seats reserved for STs. Terrorism is something not many of the present generation here can understand – the state faced one of India’s most-potent insurgencies for over two decades and is now one of the most peaceful regions post-1986 Mizo Accord.
The nearly 100 per cent Christian state does not suffer from the politics of religion, though, ironically, socio-religious bodies play a big role in deciding how politics is played here by keeping a close watch to prevent any malpractice by the political parties during the campaigning process.
Among the six states going to Assembly polls this November, Mizoram is a different story altogether. So different that even the BJP has to abide by the election-time regulations set by the Church, even as its sister bodies of the larger Sangh Parivar are accused of resorting to violence against Christians in states like Orissa and Karnataka.
Quite naturally, none of the issues that are mainstay of the Assembly elections elsewhere make much sense here. Instead, here the parties and people are more concerned about the fact that November 29, the day for polling, is coinciding with Sabbath, considered sacred by some of the Churches and the Mizo Jews.
H C Vanlalruata, a veteran Mizo journalist, puts it succinctly, “While the other election-going states are analysing the impact of delimitation, with so many constituencies having just vanished or undergone identity-changing alterations, here only two of the 40 constituencies – Khawbung, Aizawl East – are a little bit affected by the exercise. Here, the agenda is set by the Church and the powerful youth bodies like Young Mizo Association (YMA) and Mizo Zirlai Pawl (Mizo Students Association).”
Here, the church and YMA spell out a list of dos and don’ts for all parties during each election, and voter allurement in any form is a strict no no. What the Election Commission did a few years ago for the whole country – ban on posters, banners and leaflets that deface public property – has been a practice in Mizoram since long because of their directives.
Meanwhile, the reading on the ground is that this time the fight will a triangular one, among the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF), main opposition Congress and the newly formed United Democratic Alliance (UDA) comprising the Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC), the Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNF) and the Zoram Kuthnathawktu Pawl (ZKP). The BJP is also contesting from a few seats, but it is hardly expected to make any impact.
(An abridged version was published in Sakaal Times, www.sakaaltimes.com, 26-10-2008)